California utilities continue to develop virtual power plants (VPP) across the state, enlisting various solar + storage technologies and controllers to perform grid services. Last week, three California utilities announced pilot projects with Swell Energy Inc. — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) are working with Swell to expand residential participation in their respective Capacity Bidding Programs, and Southern California Edison (SCE) is looking to balance energy on the grid across a number of different scenarios and use cases.
Through the PG&E and SDG&E programs, homeowners with solar + storage systems can receive compensation for supporting overall grid reliability while maintaining reserves in their battery for emergency use.
For PG&E, Swell will enroll existing and new residential solar + storage customers into the Capacity Bidding Program and collectively manage the systems to provide needed capacity during times of high demand or high wholesale market prices.
For SDG&E, Swell is expanding residential participation in its program, which was previously only offered to commercial and industrial customers. In addition, Swell is helping SDG&E evaluate different scenarios in which residential solar + storage systems could be used to improve the overall reliability of the grid in the context of SDG&E’s specific goals and constraints.
With SCE, in addition to the two existing VPPs, Swell Energy is facilitating expanded applications for residential solar + storage assets to balance energy on the grid across a number of different scenarios and use cases. The effort with SCE could expand the use of aggregated residential solar + storage resources into virtual power plants to maximize environmental benefits and improve power reliability for SCE customers.
All three programs align with California Public Utility Commission goals to improve power reliability in the face of more frequent extreme weather events. By expanding residential participation in utility capacity programs and helping utilities maximize the benefits distributed solar + storage systems can provide, Swell is helping meet the state’s projected energy needs next summer and beyond.